[Voting is now open for X Games Real Ski Backcountry. Watch the athletes' entries and place your vote here.]
After Parker White took second place at Red Bull Linecatcher in January, he stayed in France and ended up filming his entire X Games Real Ski Backcountry segment abroad -- the only contestant to do so. He's spending March in Cooke City, Mont., BC and Alaska, filming with Level 1 Productions. White is up against Sammy Carlson in the opening round of fan voting, which ends today, March 11. The winner will be announced at X Games Tignes on March 22. We caught up with White in Bozeman, Mont.
Did you go into the season with a game plan?
We didn't have much of a strategy. We did a couple of things differently though. We filmed in Europe, we made our own music.
Where exactly did you film?
We filmed one day in Cooke City. Otherwise it was all in Val d'Isere and Les Arcs, France.
What was it like filming in France?
I wasn't really planning on it. I was over there for Linecatcher. BC got super warm, so I decided to stay. My friend Leo Taillefer is from Val d'Isere and said he'd show me around. A week turned into a month. It was so much fun. It's a little more do-whatever-you-want; a little lawless. There's no liability, everyone's not suing each other, you can ski wherever you want … And everyone we met was so hospitable. People were like, "Come stay in my house, I'll get you tickets." Every person was great. And I really like the cheese.
How were you accessing everything?
We actually accessed everything by lift. We just went to rolly places and built jumps. It was a short hike here and there but nothing crazy. French people don't ski off piste all that much from what I can tell.
You said the best day was that sunset jump -- where was that?
In Les Arcs. It was the first jump we built. It was Chris Logan's birthday, so we called it the birthday jump. It was right off the run and a little hike. There was a huge crowd of Euros who hadn't seen anything like that.
So you made your own music?
We went down to Nashville to Taylor Brown's house. He's an incredible musician. He banged out a track real quick. There's slide guitar, pipe organ, keyboard, electric guitar.
How did he get involved?
He's a friend. He's done some stuff for Level 1. Taylor, Freedle Coty and I went on a hunting trip on the Missouri river last fall with our dads and friends and we all decided we should make some music for this edit. It was one of those totally collaborative ideas.
And you edited in Nashville?
Yep. Freedle did the editing and Taylor did the music.
Were you involved in the editing process more than normal?
No ... maybe even a little less. We knew what shots we had. Usually for Level 1, I cruise down to Denver and sit with them and give some feedback, but Freedle did it all by himself.
Did it feel like a competition while you were filming?
You can never get too competitive when there's no one around, but I definitely wanted to have an edit I was proud of. I learned some new stuff. I did a couple of new tricks that I'm stoked on. One was by accident.
You said you like being able to do a contest on your own terms. What do you mean by that?
It was pretty stress free. It's the only contest I've done where I get to take as many tries as I wanted. You don't have to ski in bad weather; you make it whatever you want it to be. I'd like to keep that vibe going and continue doing things like this. It's a really rad style of skiing and it's cool to see something as big as X Games bringing attention to it. It creates more options for people coming up. Now, halfpipe and slopestyle aren't the only avenues.
Are you happy with the final product?
You always wish you had more time. To have had March would have been great -- the snow is more stable and there are longer days. But I'm happy with what came out of it. It's pretty straight forward -- in-run, jump. It would have been nice to film some bigger lines and add in a little more diversity.